Some 250 elite crime fighters from a dozen states and Washington, D.C., descended on Boston on Monday for a three-day conference to discuss methods for preventing terror strikes, mass shootings, and other catastrophes.
The attendees, hailing from as far west as Ohio and as far north as Maine, are in town for the National Fusion Center Association’s northeast regional meeting, said David Carabin, assistant chief of the Boston Police Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Analysis.
“We are the ones responsible for providing timely and accurate information to the [law enforcement officers] on the front lines,” Carabin said. “The environment is very intense right now. We’re looking at a lot of different threat factors.”
The various fusion centers, which are clearinghouses for state and federal authorities to analyze public safety threats, hold spring meetings every year. The northeastern region is meeting from Monday to Wednesday at the Hyatt in downtown Boston.
Attendees include fusion center representatives, major city and county intelligence commanders, and officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, among others, said Carabin, who also serves as director of the Boston Regional Intelligence Center.
He said law enforcement professionals are confronting a “flash to bang” phenomenon, referring to the accelerated pace of many plots in the digital age.
“The speed with which people are getting motivated to commit ideologically motivated violence or any type of violence is happening very, very fast, and we’ve got to be ready for it,” Carabin said, adding that authorities are also cognizant of the need to protect citizens’ privacy rights.
“We’re not taking away, nor do we want to take away, the constitutionally protected rights of anyone,” he said. “Boston is doing really well. When we’re talking about different things going on, what’s key to our approach is that we never forget our community. Community policing is at the heart of what we do.”
And the city’s biggest booster of the community policing model, in which officers aren’t limited to patrolling in their cruisers and locking up criminals but also talk to residents to build trust, is Boston police Commissioner William B. Evans.
He said in a phone interview Monday that he addressed the fusion center conference earlier that morning.
“I gave opening remarks . . . and thanked them all for the job they do,” Evans said.
Evans said participants are discussing “best practices of what’s working, and you know, just making sure we’re constantly communicating with each other. We’ve seen around the Marathon [bombings] the importance of sharing information.”
The commissioner said conference topics include a “behavioral assessment” to prevent mass shootings, counterterrorism practices, and even security at major sporting events.
“It’s all about how we can make our cities safer,” he said.
His words were echoed by Carabin, who said dozens of officials are giving presentations, including the police chief for St. Louis County, who oversaw the response to rioting in 2014 in Ferguson, Mo., the scene of widespread unrest after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.
“We have all the right people in the room,” Carabin said. “People from Washington, D.C., DHS, FBI — you name it, they were here.”Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.